11 minutes read time
As the year draws to a close, we are also closing out the decade. As we talked about this around the office we realized that it’s been a little over 10 years since the inception of cloud visitor management.
We sat down with our CEO and Founder Darren Whitaker-Barnett to talk through the evolution of visitor and people presence management over the last 10 years and what his predictions are for the future of the industry and WhosOnLocation.
No problem, happy to share the love. The opportunity to reflect is a privilege.
It’s a decade! I started with an early concept/version in 2010, launching WhosOnLocation in 2012.
Yes, I’ve seen quite a few changes, and these have been driven by the rapid adoption of new technologies and changes in the geopolitical landscape. On the technology side, we have seen a big pivot from client-side visitor management to visitor management as a cloud service. This change has, in turn, had a great effect on the accessibility, affordability, and scope of the visitor and people presence market as a whole. Pre the era of ‘cloud services’ visitor management was really the domain of high security facilities, government agencies, and the largest of corporate entities only. But the cloud delivered lower cost options, easier deployment, and a rapid acceleration in new functionality. As a result, visitor management has been adopted by small and medium sized businesses and not-for-profits. We have also seen applications and services evolve to meet the specific needs of particular sectors like schools, healthcare, manufacturing, and utilities.
When we first started WhosOnLocation our buyer was a cloud-native administrator or IT Business Analyst. We knew more about cloud services than they did, regulatory, political, or geographical considerations had next to zero influence on the decision, and we were largely left to sell based on receptionist productivity gains and improved visitor security practices. Where your data resided no one really cared. As long as the uptime was 99.99% it simply came down to ‘does the solution solve our problem’. Today the world is a different beast.
Trust is now a huge part of the engagement process. Social media and the inappropriate use of ‘your’ personally identifiable data is now a topic around water coolers. Data is stored and transferred between countries at the speed of light, and the awareness of how organizations use data has never been more in the public conscious. If you are going to allow a service to manage who enters and leaves your facilities then the service provider had better be able to provide evidence and give assurances that they have controls in place to ensure the retention of data sovereignty, have adequate protection to facilitate the transfer of information, be compliant with GDPR and/or Privacy Shield, and demonstrate that they meet internationally recognized ‘trust’ certificates in the form of ISO Accreditation and/or SOC 1 and 2 Type reports, and align with standards prescribed by the likes of ITAR, C-PAT, and many others.
The impact of geopolitical influences was never more apparent than when President Barack Obama signed the Patriot Sunsets Extension Act on May 26, 2011; which allowed a continuation of roving wiretaps and searches of business records. This saw an unprecedented reaction from non-US corporates, businesses, and government agencies seeking to remove any cloud services from US owned or controlled data stores. Of course, time does heal many wounds, along with the adoption of recognized data handling standards, treaties, and inter-country regulatory frameworks like GDPR and Privacy Shield. Today AWS, as one example, provides the necessary architecture configurations to ensure data sovereignty amongst other elements of data security.
Gosh, as a company we’ve had many. For me personally, it’s:
I strongly believe that intelligence, innovation, wisdom, creativity, vision, and leadership does not sit with those with managerial titles. We have, from day one, encouraged every member of our team to make a contribution and participate in all aspects of our business. This has brought high levels of innovation and continuous improvement and gives employees the opportunity to set the rules and landscape for the future of WhosOnLocation. Our early employees (most are still employees) have helped the company grow and drive systems to ensure success.
The biggest explosion is with data: Business insights, business intelligence, big data, call it what you will. Don’t just think ‘who’, ‘where they are from’ and ‘date and time of entry; today’s systems will allow you to know:
Innovation is incredibly important. It’s not just about window dressing the product. Innovation runs through the DNA of WhosOnLocation. From the retention of employees to a better way to operate or doing something better or less taxing. It’s also important to maintain a leadership position and voice of authority in the market. Overall it’s about making sure customers are always seeing the value and delivering what they need before they need it. We need to keep innovating, it’s important to keep relevant – I’d never want to suffer a Nokia or Kodak moment where they didn’t see the innovation coming.
We sure have released some great features and enhancements over the last 10 years. My personal favorite is WolEvac. WolEvac brings the entire dream to life. The original genesis for WhosOnLocation was to help organizations account for people in their duty of care using a world-class integrated system offering visitor, contract and employee management. If you look at WhosOnLocation without WolEvac we are an identity access management service. We are leaders in our field but no one else is doing evacuation management like we are, when you combine this with our other features in one product we’ve got all the bases covered. I’m really looking forward to the refresh of WolEvac in 2020.
Don’t sweat the small stuff and let my employees succeed quicker by allowing them to fail fast.
Scope Beyond the Visitor: We are already seeing services that enable organizations to manage ‘all people in their duty of care’, not just visitors. Today’s enterprise systems manage visitor, contractor, vendor, supplier, and employee presence in a single service, and I see this becoming more prevalent as the integration of IoT and analytics with presence systems becomes more entrenched in both building management systems, health and safety systems, and security platforms.
Big Data Analytics and AI: The adoption of advanced data analytics, machine learning, and AI within the physical security and safety industries is only in its infancy. As organizations capture larger data sets around the presence of people accessing their facilities; the symbiotic relationship between this data and real-time video, facial recognition and ID matching services, and the IoT will become essential ingredients in the recipe for strengthening the safety and physical security of people, assets, and IP within an organization’s care.
‘Smart Offices’ and ‘Smart Workplaces’: Today, organizations are integrating automated systems faster than ever before, making their offices and workplaces super-efficient, bringing down operating costs, and also creating a suitable and well-connected working environment for employees. However the availability of presence systems that enable an organization to not only manage visitor presence but also that of employees, contractors, vendors, and suppliers in a single service also enables the ‘scope’ of the ‘smart workplace’ and its ROI to extend beyond the employee.
To be the world leader in the integrated people presence space by helping enterprise organizations around the globe manage their safety and security in one place across employees, visitors and service providers.
Yes, it’s really exciting to be involved in an industry that is relatively new and sharing the exciting adventure with a group of companies like ProxyClick, Envoy, Sine, PassagePoint, and SwipedOn. Together we are leading the way in bringing robust and scalable visitor management to the forefront as facility managers are looking at how best to manage the safety of their people, assets, and IP.
No, because I still have a lot more I want to do. So many companies in the world are not able to keep people safe, we want to help show them how. The job is undone. We are just getting started!
WhosOnLocation provides people presence management software that monitors the safe and secure movement of people through buildings and work sites. Our powerful, cloud-based solution unites visitor, contractor, employee, and emergency management, enabling organizations to secure their facilities and ensure the safety of every person on-site.
Armed with a rich, unified source of people presence information, our users are empowered to make more strategic, data-driven decisions that mitigate risk, reduce overhead costs, and streamline operations.
WhosOnLocation serves organizations in 39 countries around the world, protecting billions of dollars in assets and IP, and managing over 20 million secure movements through over 2500 facilities each year.